The agreements between APSCUF and PASSHE provide for benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners (hereinafter referred to as Domestic Partners) of PASSHE faculty and coaches. The Board of Governors also extended the same benefits to PASSHE managers. Domestic Partners and their children identified on a PASSHE Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Certification who are determined to be eligible may receive Employee Health Care Program.
Note: The value of these Domestic Partner benefits may be taxable to the employee under federal law; please see below in the Taxation of Benefits section for more information.
To qualify for benefits listed above, an employee and partner must meet the following criteria and provide a completed PASSHE Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Certification. This notarized certification is to be maintained in the employee’s official personnel file.
The unmarried biological or legally adopted child (including a child during the probation period), or a child for whom the Domestic Partner is the legal guardian, is eligible if the child meets the benefits program age requirements and:
To initiate Domestic Partner benefits for a same-sex domestic partner and/or children of a same-sex domestic partner, an employee must certify the Same-Sex Domestic Partnership as follows:
Note: Original documents must be submitted and must be dated at least six (6) months prior to the date the certification is executed.
Employee Health Care Program and Management Benefits Program enrollment must occur within sixty (60) calendar days of the notarization date on the PASSHE Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Certification, or within sixty (60) days of a qualifying life event, if applicable; otherwise, enrollment cannot occur until the next open enrollment period. Examples of a qualifying life event could be adoption or legal guardianship of a child or a change in employment status, such as termination or the start of employment. To enroll, the employee must submit a PASSHE Enrollment/Change form along with the supporting documentation as outlined above, unless already on file.
Under federal tax laws, only certain dependents of an employee may receive employer-provided health coverage on a tax-free basis. For example, an employee’s opposite-sex spouse may receive health coverage tax-free. Different tax rules apply to same-sex Domestic Partners. Under those rules, health coverage provided to an employee’s Domestic Partner (and to the Domestic Partner’s children) will typically result in wage income being imputed to the employee.
Both the university and employee costs of providing Domestic Partner benefits are treated as taxable income to the employee if the Domestic Partner and/or Partner’s children is/are not qualified as dependents under federal tax regulations. For this reason, the fair market value of providing Domestic Partner benefits will be added to the employee’s biweekly pay as additional taxable income for federal tax as well as for Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes. Also, the employee’s health program contribution attributable to Domestic Partner benefits will be an after-tax deduction.
This additional taxable income can be excluded if the employee is eligible to claim the Domestic Partner and/or Partner’s children as tax qualified dependents under the applicable requirements of Internal Revenue Code Section 152 (which defines the term “dependent” for various tax purposes). An employee who files a certification stating that the Domestic Partner and/or Partner’s children is/are eligible to receive health coverage tax-free under the applicable IRS requirements will not be taxed on the value of the health coverage, provided the tax-qualified status continues for the entire calendar year. Employees must report any changes in the tax-qualified status of the Domestic Partner and/or Partner’s children to the university Human Resources office on a timely basis. To continue the tax-qualified status, the employee must file a new certification by February 15 of every calendar year. If such legal tax dependency is not certified by the required deadline, the fair market value of Domestic Partner benefits will be added to the employee’s taxable income for that calendar year.
As indicated above, the impact of Domestic Partner benefits on an employee’s taxable income will be determined by the tax qualified status of the Domestic Partner and the Domestic Partner’s children. Since employees must certify as to the nature of this tax qualified status, it is recommended that employees consult with a qualified tax professional for guidance.
The employee must notify the university Human Resources office in writing within thirty (30) days of the dissolution of a certified Same-Sex Domestic Partnership by completing a Termination of Same-Sex Domestic Partnership form. Benefit plan eligibility for the Domestic Partner and children of the Partner ends on the last day of the month in which the partnership ended. Failure to notify the university may result in liability for benefits provided to ineligible Domestic Partner and/or dependents.
For additional information on domestic partner benefits, see the Frequently Asked Questions.
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